West Tisbury: Birthday cake for breakfast

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— Kyra Steck

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Veterans Day. My father’s and brother Mark’s birthdays. My brother-in-law Edward’s, too. It was always a festive day in our house when I was growing up. Birthday cake for breakfast and something special planned for the day. There was no school, almost enough in itself to make the day special.

It was also a national holiday, as it still is, kept on its day because of the historical significance that the hostilities ceased while awaiting the signing of the Treaty of Versailles by the United States and Germany that ended World War I.

People my age grew up calling the commemorative day Armistice Day. It became Veterans Day after World War II, designated by President Eisenhower in 1954. It was conceived as a tribute to all veterans, especially those still alive, thanking them for their service to our country. 

World War I was called “the war to end all wars.” ‘Tis a pity that it hasn’t been so.

I venerate the generations of men and women who joined the military, who trained and fought for our country. Still, my heart is filled with sadness and regret for lives lost and damaged by engagement in all wars. We try to teach our children to settle disagreements with words, yet all across the globe resentments, animosities, and ideologies cause human beings to demonize and seek to destroy one another. It has been everso and will likely continue. We pray for peace, yet wage war to achieve it. What a world we live in.

I had begun cleaning up my garden beds and raking the leaves out of them before I read an article by Margaret Roach (awaytogarden.com) about Douglas W. Tallamy. He is an entomologist and professor at University of Delaware, who has written extensively about the need to keep our yards less tidy so we can support entomological and biological diversity. I haven’t had time to start “The Nature of Oaks” yet, but approach that activity with much anticipation. It’s a paean to the benefits of oak leaves and their benefit to life above and underground. He refers to oaks as the “champions of carbon sequestration, soil stabilization, and watershed management.” Here we are, living amidst oak forests filled with beneficial possibilities. Best of all, those benefits are best realized by not raking up all those leaves.

There was a wonderful concert at the West Tisbury library Sunday afternoon. Music Street Musicians, Diane Katzenberg Braun, Alan Toda-Ambaras, and Li-Mei Liang performed on piano, cello, and violin respectively, as well as giving an informative precis about the composers and significance of each piece. It is a gift to have these amazing live concerts made available to us all. No need to travel off-Island, or even to another town. It is right here.

There will be another concert this Saturday afternoon, Nov. 13, at 3 pm. Duo Amie, featuring cellist Julie Reimann and pianist Ellyses Kuan, will perform at the library. Email 

wt_mail@clamsnet.org to reserve your seat.

Martha’s Vineyard Democrats will meet on Zoom this Saturday morning, Nov. 13, 9:30 to 11 am. Email democratsmv@gmail.com for the Zoom link. Scheduled speakers are state Sen. Diane DiZoglio, currently representing the 1st Essex District, and running for state auditor, and Bret Bero, candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. He is committed to focus on supporting small businesses in Massachusetts.

There will be a special town meeting this coming Tuesday, Nov. 16, 7 pm, at the West Tisbury School. It will be a short warrant of seven articles. One is to set a cost-sharing formula for the Tri-Town Ambulance service. Another is a vote on an inter-municipal agreement for the Up-Island School District to fund repairs to the West Tisbury and Chilmark schools. To read the complete warrant, go to the town website: westtisbury–ma.gov.

There wil be a meeting of the West Tisbury Task Force Against Discrimination on Thursday, Nov. 18, 5:30 to 6:30 pm, on Zoom. It will be a listening session for residents to discuss their concerns and possible ways to achieve “maintain(ing) a community where all individuals are welcome regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnic background.” Selectman Cindy Mitchell will introduce the task force and Dan Waters will moderate the meeting. For your Zoom link to the meeting, email: wttfad@gmail.com

Now that we are presumably freed from too much raking and lawn and leaf clean-up, think about all the newly found free time we have to do other things. Get outside and enjoy the sound and smell of those leaves crinkling underfoot. The ground has been crunching with leaves and early-morning frost, among the most enjoyable sounds of fall. The fragrance, too, which although it’s probably full of mold spores, remains one of the treasured memories of my childhood. Memories come in all forms.